PSU Pre-Match Press Conference

Video Highlights: Penn State Press Conference

Penn State Head Coach Russ Rose

Opening statement:

“We’re excited to be here representing our university, our conference and I know the players are excited about having the opportunity to again compete in the national championship.”

Reason for players wearing different numbers in practice:

“I didn’t notice that, but I like that. It’s a good thing to do. I know who they are. I’m not sure why they do that. If that’s what they’ve done in the past and it’s worked out for them, I’m all for it.”

Going for four championships in a row and making history:

“We don’t really look at it that way. Certainly, the players we’ve had over the last few years that left with national championships had the ability to have left with either one, two or three, and these guys are entering this weekend with a chance to do something else, but we don’t talk about that. We talk about this team, the opportunities they have and the need for them to play well together if they have hopes of winning the matches they play in. We don’t really talk about history. I think people write books about that sort of thing. Your numbers might be lofty but people have a way of getting out there and breaking all the records that are established so I’m not thinking along those lines. I’m thinking this year, this team. We have a large selection of older kids and nine freshmen, so it’s been a task this year trying to work with all of them as well as meet maybe some of the expectations the seniors still have.”

On being the Joe Paterno of college volleyball:

“He’s a wonderful person to be compared to, I’m sure. You know the answer. Nobody’s winning in any sport who doesn’t have a great collection of student-athletes. I think I’ve been fortunate to have number of great staff members through the years. Maybe the most important variable is that the university supported the program, and when a university makes a commitment to have success, it gives you the opportunity to do it.  It doesn’t guarantee you will do it, but it gives you an opportunity. We were very fortunate when we joined the Big Ten, we entered a new era where we didn’t have to move so I had a new job without having to move.

“It’s the players that give you the opportunity. You could have great talent and if they don’t play together, it’s not going to make a difference. The run that we’ve had in the late 90s when we went to three Final Fours in a row, and the group that won the last three championships, they were not only very talented but they played well together and they liked each other. They made the commitment to look past some of the challenges that groups face. I think we all have different strengths. If you asked the four coaches here, they would have different things they would list as the most important thing. I want the kids to have fun. I want them to work hard and I’m not afraid to discuss both with them.”

On Texas:

“They are coming in as the hottest team. In hitting percentage, they hit .360 in their four preliminary matches. Their middles are first and second in the nation in hitting.  They are playing with a lot of confidence. Julianne is a terrific player. Rachel is off the charts, similar to Destinee, there are times you have to not get yourself emotionally involved in her ability to do the things she does because she was that good in club and high school. I think they are playing great. They have a lot of confidence. Every team that gets this far can win. You don’t get here on a lark. We going to have to play awfully well if we hope to stop them from doing what they do so well.”

On replacing the talent that graduated from last season:

“When we were 3-3 in the Big 10, there were a lot of doubts. When we lost to Stanford, the reality was the top team. At that point in time, we were ranked No. 1 and I think Stanford was No. 2.  Stanford, on that day, was far better than we were. They played better in every aspect of the game, they played harder and they were better coached – everything that affects an outcome. They lost Ashley Engel and Destinee and their libero; we lost Darcie, Megan and Alicia. You can come up with who lost more and it doesn’t really change the fact that it’s great to be here, whether you are playing with house money or not, we feel fortunate to be here with so many young kids. When the bracket came out, alyssa had to freeze frame it and explain to the freshmen what it meant. They had no idea, when they were looking at it, were the teams going to be reseeded after the first round or what. When you are saying to yourself, what were my expectations, I’ve been dealing with that for three and a half months. This is really an exciting opportunity for these young people.”

On the idea of playing major matches outside of the conference season:

“I think that’s something that would resonate in the commissioners’ offices in the various conferences. The way the Big 10 scheduling has gone, you have the first four weekends to play out of conference  and then the next 10 weekends we are all in conference, so we’ve played a true round robin. With the addition of Nebraska, I believe we’re looking at an 18-game schedule, so there might be one or two open dates that people might have. Whether the conference wants to enter in to that agreement with other conferences, that would certainly be exciting. That is what I put together the Big Four tournament with Texas and Stanford and Florida. I was having trouble scheduling. I was always having people criticize the fact that I didn’t have a better schedule. All three of the people when I called them agreed it was a great idea and they would participate. There was a little hemming and hawing about who would host it and at what time. I don’t think it hurts you when you play a good team and lose. It gives you an opportunity as a coach to identify to your players this is what the top teams are doing and this is where we are falling a little short and this is what we need to get better at. We played Florida with a huge crowd and won. It was the only match they lost until they lost to Purdue. We lost to Stanford the next night. It was certainly a match that identified areas that we were pretty far behind Stanford. Texas was there and lost in five to Florida. When both our teams were leaving 0-2 and 1-1, I’m sure we weren’t thinking, yes, in December, we’ll be playing in the semifinals for a chance to win a national championship. Both of us had our tails between our legs after getting smacked around by Stanford. We had to be realistic about we need to get better at some things. In our case, we moved some players around and tried to change things. That’s what coaches have to do.”

Sr. MH Arielle Wilson

On getting to be old hat being here:

“Definitely in high school, I didn’t picture being in the Final Four, so it definitely gets more exciting as the years go on.  The first year was a shock and ever since then it’s been incredible.”

On playing for Coach Rose:

“Definitely been honored to have a coach like coach.  He definitely pushes you.  You usually come in not knowing what you can do, and but the time you leave here, it’s like wow, I didn’t know I had that in me.  He makes you a better person, better athlete, better all-around person.”

On playing sand volleyball:

“It should be interesting to see how it develops in the Midwest and East Coast where it’s cold outside to see if they put it indoor.”

On rematch with Texas:

“They are a different team, and it will be interesting to see how we both as new teams work together with our old teams and come up with a win.”

Sr. L/DS Aylssa D’errico

On getting to be old hat being here:

“I would completely agree one hundred percent.  It doesn’t get old because it’s the spotlight you hope to be in when you’re training in club and high school and getting recruited.  You don’t necessarily believe that it’s going to happen in four years, and it’s the most exciting part of the year for us, and we’re hoping to end on a high note and finish out our careers the right way.”

On players wearing different numbers in practice:

“The first we came to Final Four we did that, and ever since then it’s been fun for us to do, and we get a kick out of it , and we have fun in front of the crowd.  Having an open practice, it’s a time for us to be loose and show what our program’s about.  We’re a fun bunch a girls.  It’s something we started when we first came here and didn’t want to let it go.”

On playing for Coach Rose:

“I would agree one hundred percent.  He’s probably one of the most respected coaches in the game.  Every coach knows him, knows what he’s about.  Every player knows him and knows what he’s about.  You grew up and know who he is.  I think the best attribute that he brings to us is that he keeps us grounded and is always going to tell us like it is.  There’s never going to be a day he’s going to sugarcoat it and tell you stuff you want to hear, he’s going to tell you stuff you don’t want to hear.  Not many have people have that attribute.  That’s what makes us the best players we can be.  He’s never going to let us settle.  It just drives us and motivates us, and it draws in very, very similar players.  We have a lot of kids that have the same attributes that want to compete and want to be the best because of what he does.”

On playing sand volleyball:

“I know there are a few people on our team that have been able to play competitively on the sand.  I think it’s a great opportunity for the future of volleyball because there are some people that could excel in beach volleyball not necessarily in indoor after college.  Giving them an opportunity to train in that environment and play competitively in that environment will for sure give them an advantage once they get done playing in college.  In the Big 10, I’m not sure what’s going to happen with beach volleyball with that aspect.  We’re all Midwest/East Coast schools that don’t have access to areas we could play.”

RS-Sr. MH/OPP Blair Brown

On getting to be old hat being here:

“It absolutely does not get old.  This is what you play for.  This is what you work hard for early in the season and preseason is to get to this point.  And right now, we’re just concentrating on finishing the season out in the way that we would like to.”

On the winning streak:

“It’s not about the streak.  It’s about the game.  So, the next day, you wake up, you go to the gym, and you work to get better, and that’s what it’s about.  It’s not about the streak.  It’s not about numbers.  One day, the records will be broken.  They break ours, and theirs will be broken again.  It’s the nature of the game.  It’s about playing the game that we play.  It’s not about focusing on streaks or anything like that.”

On playing for Coach Rose:

“Coach is a big part of why student-athletes come to Penn St.  We respect his honesty, and that’s what we want to hear when we get in the gym.  We want him to be honest with us and tell us what we need to work on, and I think that makes a lot of people better.  Of course, we’re attracted to the program, the tradition of success, and I’m sure that’s something that every student-athlete wants as well.  I think it’s a unique fit for a lot of people to come to Penn St., and a lot of us have a lot of things in common personality wise, and it just really meshes well on the court.  Can’t say enough about coach.  He’s built this program up with the help of the university and a lot of the staff members, and he’s made into something that’s really special.”

On sand volleyball:

“Well, it’s hard to say because when I was growing up, indoor volley ball wasn’t big in my area, now when I go home, they have multiple clubs, and it’s grown so much, and it’s great that the sport has kind of taken off, and with the help of the Big 10 Network it’s given a bigger audience, so you never know, it may take off.”

On rematch with Texas:

“I think the rematch would be if we played the exact same teams.  These are completely different teams this year.  Texas is a great team with a lot of great hitters.  It’s a completely different situation.  I think we don’t look at it as a rematch, we look at it as a semifinal game to make it to the finals just like they do.”